Chorusing Through Winter

Testing, Testing, 1…2…3… It’s that time of year again. Benjamin Franklin’s 8th grade winter chorus concert is coming up once more this winter, in the BF auditorium. For those who don’t know, Benjamin Franklin Middle School has a custom of having such concerts once every semester. These concerts are a very important tradition of the school, as they allow the music students to showcase their talents while allowing other students, as well as parents, to have the pleasure of hearing their peers’ amazing performances.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 complications, BF hasn’t been able to hold a concert for a while and the last concert before this was disappointing for many. As a result, expectations from the current 8th grade student body for this winter concert are high. The question is, will it meet them?

A quick recap for those out of the loop– the previous concert, led by the school’s current 8th grade student body back when they were in 6th grade, failed heavily in the chorus department. According to witnesses, no one really sang and more so just stood around and laughed. As one can see, this was not the best experience for lots of those students.

One thing that could possibly make this chorus concert better than the previous one is that the chorus teacher leading this concert is different from the one that had led the prior concert. Abby Juppe, an 8th grade student, stated that, “This year, I think that, since we have a different teacher managing the concert, that she is going to give us a better concert because her teaching style is a lot cleaner than our old teacher’s style.” Additionally, since there were no concerts last year, students have been given the time to recover and practice their skills. Now that everyone is finally all back together, there is a good chance for them to bounce back and give the school another great performance.

What should we expect from the 8th grade winter concert this year? Well, for one thing, the selection of songs that will be sung this year are mainly pop songs. Specifically, Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo, Country Roads, and  Have You Ever Seen The Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

JJ Mackzum, an 8th grade student was asked about whether or not he thinks this concert will be better than last year, said, “I certainly hope so. I’m not entirely sure, but I am optimistic. I think it will be better, but the main concern is how much better.” When asked to elaborate, he continued with, “I mean, that, it seems like it will still be embarrassing to be on the stage–you guys remember the 6th grade concert–we all don’t want that to happen again.”

Abby Juppe, another 8th grade chorus student, also said something similar when asked about whether or not she felt prepared. She said, “I definitely think that I need to practice a little more, and that our whole class needs to practice a little more because we haven’t been getting the song down as much as we should. I think that before, or for most of the year, we have been having some behavioral issues but I think that we’re getting better and being a lot more respectful lately and I think that if we all really try our best, that we can sound good. It’s just that, when people don’t try their best, we just sound horrible. But if everyone just like, sings, because everyone has a good voice, and they all sing together, it’ll be good.”

Concerning things about the concert that she felt would make it pop, she added, “I think that the songs, like everyone knows the songs and they’re well known songs. So, I think that people will enjoy it more– like, back in 6th grade, we did songs that not a lot of people heard of, so I think that since everyone knows the song it’ll be better. And I’m pretty sure that for some of the songs we’re going to have some props and some people in the class are doing some hand motions for the songs, which’ll make it more interesting.”

So what does the BF chorus teacher, Mrs. Kawash, have to say about all of this? On how she felt this concert was going to go, she replied, “Well, I tried to pick songs that were kind of fun because to me it’s more of a celebration, just to be able to do this again in a concert. I’m trying to not think of it as a formal performance because it’s been two years, so you know we’re all a little rusty, we’re all trying to roll a little bit behind. So rather than put a lot of pressure on the kids to be perfect and whatnot, I just want them to have fun. So to just enjoy being in front of an audience again, rather than worrying about having a perfect performance. I think it’s just a celebration for everybody to be able to do this again.”

Mrs. Kawash gave a reply that was reminiscent of Abby’s when discussing her hopes for this concert. “I think that if everybody pulls together and everyone focuses, I think that’s the key word, is focus. I think it’s very hard being back in school right now. Even though we’re a couple months in, I think it’s very hard for everyone to focus so if everyone is focused I think they’re going to do a fantastic job. I think that’s the biggest thing right now, is just staying focused on our goal, which is to produce a performance that they can be proud of. I want them to feel proud, that’s my biggest goal for them and to be happy with their performance.”

Mrs. Kawash also added, in response to whether or not she thought her students were prepared, “I think musically they’ll be fine. I think that they know the songs pretty well, we finished all three before break which was my goal. Then, of course, when we come back it’s going to be the polishing up. One thing that I’m, I don’t want to say concerned about but just like something that’s going to be hard, I think, is dress rehearsal. Getting up on the risers, standing still, all those things that are hard. They’re out of practice, they’ve only had one middle school concert that was two years ago so I think it’s just being a little bit out of practice with that. But I think that if they focus, they’re going to be amazing. I think this concert is going to be just as good, if not better than the other ones. I’m hoping, honestly, that it’s better because we’re welcoming everyone back to the BF auditorium. And like I said, I view it as a celebration, I kind of want it to be better and I want it to be better for them because I want them to have a good experience before they graduate. They’ve only had one concert so far in their whole career years at BF, so I want it to be better for them.”

Lastly, the most recent update on the concert was that it was delayed. Originally, the concert was supposed to be held on January 19th. However, due to the recent rise in COVID cases and the quarantining of a lot of students and staff, the concert has been postponed to February 15th. What will this mean for the concert and how will it affect it? According to Mrs. Kawash, “I actually think it’s better in a way because it gives us a couple extra weeks to get everything memorized and to get more confident and to be more comfortable with the music, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. I think it will probably make this performance stronger, having the extra time to work on stuff.”

All in all, stakes for this upcoming 8th grade winter chorus concert are high. Hopefully, the 8th grade chorus students will be able to pull through and deliver the school an outstanding performance to welcome everyone back to BF, while having a great concert experience themselves before they graduate.